CLOVERDALE -- Start with a beautiful April evening, add in a few questioned calls at the plate, sprinkle in some outstanding defensive plays and what you have is a 2-1 Cloverdale win over visiting North Putnam.
The Clovers took the lead in the third inning, when Kate Chambers and Breegan Andersen scored. Chambers reached after Dakota Malayer dropped a called third strike then proceeded to toss the ball over the first baseman to set up Cloverdale's first run of the game.
"We had some throwing mistakes in the game and they cost us," North Putnam head coach Jim Brothers said. "This is our third loss and two of those we gave them runs. There's going to be a lot of close ball games this year and we just can't give runs away."
North Putnam's offense came alive in the fourth inning as Logan Doyle and Carlye McGaughey hit back-to-back singles. Taylor Judy drew a walk to load the bases. Unfortunately, the Cougars were only able to score a single run off an Ashley Doyle sac fly to right-center field. In the fourth, North Putnam became more aggressive on the bags and kept the Cloverdale defense on its toes. But Cloverdale's lead was too much for the Cougars.
In the final two innings, North saw two runners gunned down at the plate and watched as their chances of staging a comeback fell to the wayside.
"We had chances to score, but we didn't get a big hit when we needed it," Brothers said.
For Cloverdale, starting pitcher Nicole Mowery pitched a complete game, throwing one strikeout while giving up four hits. Mowery proved again that her precision is an asset the Clovers will enjoy exploiting as the season progresses.
"Two inches can mean a ballgame and Nicole has good speed, but she can put the ball on a dime. We're able to read the batter weaknesses and strengths and she can put it where I want it. It works out pretty nicely," Falls commented.
Both coaches spoke of the importance of defense after the game. Both squads had outstanding plays in the field, highlighted by two running catches in the outfield by Chelsea Haltom and Kristen Schroer. Judy made a couple impressive plays off the mound, tagging Haltom out and throwing home to get Byrd at home.
"As the game went on we got stuff going, had some chances to score and we just didn't get it done," Brothers said. "We're still a young team and still learning out here. The biggest thing is we have to be solid defensively and we weren't tonight."
Falls acknowledged the plays in the field her squad made and clarified that getting athletes in the outfield was crucial from day one.
"We talked about how we put of best athletes in the outfield. Some of them, we I came here, were not too excited about being in the outfield," Falls said. "We put our speed out there, we've put our athletes out there, so I'm confident that what they can physically get to they will and tonight they did.
"We spend about 75 percent of our time on defense at practice and 25 percent on hitting, if we can get our run and they can't score, it should be all right," she concluded.
Cloverdale will host Edgewood at 4:30 p.m. Thursday while the Cougars will host North Montgomery at 4:30 today.
North Putnam 000 100 -- 0 4 3
Cloverdale 002 00x -- 2 5 1
WP -- Mowery
LP -- Judy
2B -- Shepherd (CHS), L. Doyle (NP)
Next game -- Cloverdale will host Edgewood at 4:30 p.m. Thursday while the Cougars will host North Montgomery at 4:30 today.